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Detroit Tigers: Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes a Better Fit?

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Mar 2, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Justin Upton (8) blows a bubble as he strikes out against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Justin Upton (8) blows a bubble as he strikes out against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Just over sixty games into the 2016 season, it’s time to start talking. Should the Detroit Tigers have paid  Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes?

The MLB season is a third of the way through, and Detroit Tigers fans have gotten a chance to observe new, star outfielder Justin Upton. Upton, a three time All-Star, signed a six-year, $132.75 million contract in January. Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes, a former Tiger, agreed to rejoin the Mets for $75 million over three years.

Hypothetically, the Tigers could have re-signed Cespedes for that kind of money. This raises the question; who is a better fit in Detroit, Cespedes or Upton?

First of all, Upton has a better contract than Cespedes. Upton’s contract was for six-year and $132.75. In my opinion, Owner Mike Illitch paid a little to much to bring Upton to Detroit. However, Upton does have an opt out in his contract after 2 years, where he could go back into the market at just 30 years old.

If Upton performs well, this is likely to happen. The Tigers will owe him about $45 million if he opts out after two season. The risk is if he underperforms, which he has so far, the Tigers could be out some serious cash. If he continues in this dry spell, the Tigers will have wasted money that could have been spent elsewhere.

Oct 30, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder
Yoenis Cespedes (52) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning in game three of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports” width=”590″ height=”417″ /> Oct 30, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning in game three of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

Cespedes however, has a shorter contract for just three years. He also has an opt out in his contract after just one year. This means he could be a free agent next offseason, and join a different club. Cespedes is also two years older than Upton, which is a factor that must be in play when signing an outfielder to a long-term contract.

So, in the terms of contracts, Upton’s deal was more suitable to the Tigers.

Now the most important point comes up, who has played better in 2016?

This is really a no-brainer, Cespedes has been outplaying Upton handily. Cespedes continues to impress fans in New York. He has a .278 batting average, 16 homers, and 40 RBI’s so far this season.

The New York outfielder is continuing his hot streak that started after he was traded from Detroit, to the Mets last summer at the deadline. Since joining New York, in 115 games he is hitting .282 with 33 home runs. His exemplary play, bolstered the team’s offense and lead the Mets to a World Series appearance last season.

Since ariving in New York, Cespedes is playing the best baseball he has in his entire career. With his help, the Mets are sitting at 35-29, which is good enough for second in the National League East.

Upton has not played well whatsoever. His play has disappointed the fans excited to see him join the club. He is hitting only .289, with 22 RBI’s, and a dismal four home runs. The most alarming stat is that he has struck out 82 times in 64 games.

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Manager Brad Ausmus has tried a variety of things to try to get Upton’s bat going. Upton has hit second, fifth, and sixth in the batting order because of his poor play.

In order for the Tigers to win they need Upton’s bat to wake up. They brought him in for one reason, and that was to have another solid hitter in this power-loaded lineup. Without much help from Upton, the Tigers have a 33-31 record, which is third in the AL Central. The Tigers need help from Upton to turn their season around, the question is if they will get it.

So who is the better fit in Detroit?

So far it obviously would have been Cespedes. With improvements in hitters like Nick Castellanos and Cameron Maybin, the Tigers could really use a bat like his to add-on to this loaded lineup.

Next: Tigers Need More Outfield Depth

Cespedes continues to impress in New York, while Upton continues to struggle in Detroit. But, baseball is a game full of ups and downs. Upton is hitting career lows now, but the season is still young. Tigers fans should still hold on to hope that Upton and the Tigers can turn things around this season.

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